2023 Lancaster, OH Residency in review
Place Setting was a week long art residency in Lancaster, Ohio culminating in an intimate dinner party set by designed invitations by Shannon Kim, around handmade ceramicware by Hillary Eden, topped with a heartmade meal of roasted, barbecued, baked, and tossed food, and wrapped together with a guided dinner conversation, zine making activity, and ceramic cup gifted to each guest.
During the residency, Shannon and Hillary were engrossed in the idea of what to do about Time. Through homemade dinners and lots of hand washed dishes, chats in the car on the way to the grocery store, mid-day treats and picnics in nature, lunch with good friends, and the climactic dinner party, they reckoned with the inevitable tedium, the monotony of the life and times of aging and the wonder that lies a few layers deep if you can get past the surface.
The only way to capture the moments that pass us by so quickly is to live presently knowing that time passes over us. Celebrating every seemingly insignificant milestone, turning our attention from our younger ideals of larger and wider reaching to more intimate and more in front of us, and doing the mundane tasks as an act of meditation, prayer, exercise of being awake, are the steps we have been making and have been made aware to us through the recent years as artists waking up to Time.
The surfaces of the ceramic place settings reflect the in-between winter/spring season we found ourselves in - muted pastel lavender, blue, and cream on the cups and dessert bowls, breaking to leathery dark plates reminiscent of wrinkled up leaves at the end of winter.
Invitations made and mailed to each guest to set the mood of the coming event.
Below are some of our findings:
Time Travel with Friends
(Hillary) A friend of ours who attended our dinner party mentioned that when you get together with certain friends, it’s like no time has passed. You pick up where you left off as if you are time traveling together to a fixed moment.
When did you first encounter Time?
(Shannon) During our final dinner, we spoke about Time broadly. What do we think about more, the past, the present, or the future? Our memories are all different about things that have happened, even between two people who have experienced the same thing. But the one question that stood out on its own to me was this one: “When did you first encounter Time?” Giving Time a persona, like a living being outside our experience, made me recount when Time introduced itself to me, only just last year, 2022. They say that when you take a chance to rest, that is when your body feels ready to unpack and allow yourself to be the sick you’ve been all the times when you were busy. 2022 was that for me. Somewhere along the way, Time appeared to me. I became aware of it like I’ve never known it to be and the experience felt as though my eyes were open to the danger in front of me that I had not felt the fear of it with my eyes closed. For me, I felt the ticking of the Time in each week that went by, every sundown, and I suppose the incessant planning my brain wanted to do for the sake of security in my future years: what needs to happen for us to be prepared for an emergency, how much time do I have left before we should think about having kids, my parents, my family, my brother, my friends far away, how much more time do I have with them? The fear of these were new to me and paralyzed my ability to pursue present experiences. Overcoming this would be imperative to actually living and spending Time wisely.
Timekeepers: “A timekeeper is an instrument or person that measures the passage of time.” -Wikipedia
(Hillary+Shannon) Items can be Timekeepers. There are ways to “re-fill” the amount of time you will spend. Time can be negotiable, just as you can ask for more as a child on the playground, you can, as an adult, ask for another cup of coffee, an extension on your deadline, a second date, more grace from yourself to reach your life goal a little later than your peers.
(Hillary) People can be Timekeepers. We can see age happening visually, particularly with children and we know we will be reminded at least yearly of the intense passage of time once we have some of our own. I think that our relationship (mine with Shannon) keeps time in the sort of intentional way that I desire. I think the distance between us makes us hold more precious the time spent together, we plan our time in great detail through google docs and hand written calendars. We prepare for our time together, and strive to be the most present as possible when in proximity. We create tangible evidence of the time spent with one another.
Past Projects -PlaceHers/FinAlley
(Hillary+Shannon) How did Time affect these projects? It has been 6 years since we installed “PlaceHers”, a guerilla graffiti project involving broken ceramic pieces found on the banks of the Muskingum River. Attached to mostly abandoned buildings with mastic, we reclaimed the unattended spaces of the city. Following our map during the residency, we found that buildings have been knocked down, burned down, stayed the same, and in place of others, new businesses have been built. We found only a few tiles still stuck to the bricks, but mostly just glue ghosts remain in collaboration with time. It put new meaning to the names of our work. “FinAlley”, although referring to only one alley in Zanesville, rings in a more conclusive note, as we’re able to accept that our work was not the end of the life cycle of the city, but that at the end of the cycle of our art was the growth of new activity in the downtown. We were just the “PlaceHers”, and over time, others found that this place could be theirs too.
Surfacing our subconscious
On our errand day to Columbus, we went to NorthStar, a warm cafe that served a Thai Burrito and a Citrus Crunch Salad, to curb our hunger and find a fresh place to wait out the rain. Hillary and I were able to find 5 minutes to think, review, and reflect on what’s been going on so far in our residency. We’ve recorded our thoughts in a stream-of-consciousness writing exercise:
Hillary’s stream of consciousness.
So much of a happy life is about perspective, choice, the hope that things will be okay. That things are changing, that time flies above us. So we acknowledge these time keepers of our life - wrinkles, dwindling toothpaste tubes, children’s birthdays, anniversaries. Let’s celebrate them. Let’s watch them ,experience them in the moment, appreciate not just the anniversaries, but the end of a meal, the warm up of a decaf cup of coffee. It’s the paper chicken heads on a stick, made for the luncheon. Thank you for your time. The mundane and the extravagant. That the mundane can become exceptional, celebrated, welcomed.
Shannon’s stream of consciousness.
How do you balance all the complexities of life? Perhaps there is no true way to have it all. “You can’t have both, but you don’t get one.” Doesn’t all of life begin in an order and devolve into chaos? It’s just natural. It's funny to try. It’s funny to replicate what is good and natural and spontaneous but damn do we always try. Perhaps that’s the fundamental reason of human error. We’ll always be wrong. Maybe there is no right way because they’re actually all wrong. But it would be a shame to be paralyzed and not try. At least when you try, you can do something about it.
Shannon Kim is an abstract painter based in California. Her practice involves line and layered movement, documenting memory, place, and feelings. A blend of traditional materials like charcoal and ink lend itself as tools to give body to that in life that is beyond the tangible.
A native Kansan, Hillary Eden holds a BFA in Ceramics from Kansas State University. She currently works out of Lancaster Ohio as an Education Coordinator at a pottery shop, alongside her studio practice. Winding lines and fluid spaces found on her vessels, invite viewers to hold and explore handmade goods.